by Michael S McCown
by Michael S McCown
Sometimes, I’m absolutely amazed that we’re not extinct. We really should be. We certainly didn’t get this far in human evolution because of our superior intellect. Most likely, it was just pure dumb luck; think, Forrest Gump.
Whether you believe in the theory of Creationism or Evolution, really isn’t important for this argument. What does matter, is that we agree that we’ve been living here for a long, long time. I’d like to think that after this long, we would’ve learned SOMETHING about getting along with each other. Getting along should be ingrained in us. It should be easy. It’s a “core” thing.
What’s a core behavior? So, you’re walking down a trail and you come face to face with a bear. No one has to tell you that this is a problem. You won’t find yourself thinking, “I wonder if this bear would mind if I scratched its tummy” or “let’s poke at it with this stick”; you just knew you were in danger and “fight or flight” kicked in. You also knew that the odds were bad and that most likely, you were going to be the largest part of the next crap the bear was going to take. Either way, you just knew. We also know not to blindly stick our arm into a deep dark hole or eat 3 day old roadkill. Again, somehow, you just know that this is not a good idea. It’s critical knowledge that’s been passed down thru life experience and recorded deep within our genes.
Throughout our very long history, inevitably, some idiot would do something like I mentioned above, then we would all start to cringe, but refuse to look away, and it would usually end very badly for the person; proving that the odd “gut-feeling” we had, was probably worth paying attention to. It also proves that we like drama. Don’t think I’m right? OK, next car crash, don’t watch as you drive on by.
For the sake of argument, let’s just say that humanity, in some form, has been wandering the earth for 15,000 years. In that time span does anyone really think that someone today could make a mistake that hasn’t been made at least a thousand times already? I’m speaking in a general way; a core mistake. Obviously, playing “chicken” with a hand grenade wasn’t possible 2000 years ago, but tempting the Fates was, and stupid is stupid no matter what year it is.
Pain and Death are great Teachers and we’ve been in their class for eons. You would think that there wouldn’t be any mistakes left to make, that prior generations would have warned us, that our “gut” would have warned us. We’ll they did, it does and we still don’t appear to have learned a thing; nothing. It’s hard to believe that we are capable of the horrible things we do to ourselves and to each other. Maybe we just don’t “get it” or we are simply unable or unwilling to “learn”.
To be fair, lets define the word: Learn:
“To gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught”
Let’s check the boxes; It appears that we’ve acquired knowledge, we’ve studied, we’ve had experience AND that the prior generations HAVE “passed it on”.
Clearly, I’m missing something here. With all of the wars, cruelty, self-destruction and hate around us today, how exactly, have we evolved since the biblical times of Genesis or the days of the Cro-Magnon Man? Maybe if someone would have just written it all down so that we would have a guidebook, or maybe a list of suggestions, say 10 or so, on things we should or shouldn’t do, to get along with each other and then passed it down…
Bottom line. Our ancestors have shown us what has worked and what hasn’t. We live in the shadow of so much history, yet we ignore it’s lessons. Our language is full of clichés and idioms that try to warn us; Once bitten, twice shy, Those that do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it (Santayana), War is Hell, Cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities (Jacobs) and We as Human beings, have the capacity for extreme cruelty (Nyong’o).
I’m beginning to think that we just exist day-to-day. We are not growing, learning or evolving as a species. Humanity is like a bunch of monkeys trying to drive a car: Their all in turning the wheel and honking the horn, fighting over how to make it go, but none can agree on anything, so they just fight amongst themselves and go absolutely nowhere.
So, please, remind me again, how have we survived this long? Oh, that’s right; pure dumb luck.
The reflection in the store window followed my every movement. The Edges blurred, the detail faint yet, familiar. I paused and peered deeply into the glass; It was my Father, it was my Sons.
It’s early in the morning and I’d like to turn on the TV. Ultimately though, that would lead to the national news and their dreaded panels or the local news where I would learn whose tractor flipped over or how the local chess team did. Other than that, it’s commercials about erectile dysfunction, Flo selling insurance or someone reminding me of how I should be feeling about an issue, which is frustrating and annoying. Keeping an opinion to yourself, is apparently a “cop out” in today’s world.
I get it though, we are in trouble. As a society, we’ve actually ground to a halt; paralyzed. The media, the people, the politicians; it’s either “this way or that”. Compromising, which used to be an act of meeting in the middle, is now seen as “giving in”; failing to get your way or “selling out” your cause. We are inundated daily with opinions and being forced to choose a side; and that side had better agree with the “popular” position or you will suffer certain backlash from their group. Well today, I’ll be Nero while Rome burns. If me not engaging in this mess matters that much, then burn baby, burn, we’ll rebuild again tomorrow.
I don’t feel like turning on the TV or fighting with those who disagree with whatever position I have or don’t have and I definitely don’t care whether the chess team won or lost. Today, I don’t want to hear your opinion and tomorrow’s not looking too good either. However, erectile dysfunction is something to ponder, as I am getting older, so I might need to watch that commercial again.
No, I think I’ll just read a good book this morning and watch the sunrise. We’re still allowed to do that, right?
As a white male, this is a tragic assessment of my gender. There is no science, behavioral or biological, that can explain away our unforgivable behavior.
I simply cannot find words that are strong enough to describe my bewilderment at “the why”. What the !@?# is wrong with us? Is it a physical or a chemical thing? “I’m sorry sir, I’m afraid you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal case of Male. Unfortunately, it’s incurable and you’re just going to have to live with being an asshole.” Think I’m overreacting? Test question:
What is the gender of every School shooter, Church shooter, Public Event shooter, Highway shooter, Shopping Mall shooter and Military Base shooter? Who is plowing into crowds with a vehicle, hi-jacking planes, car-jacking cars, stabbing people in crowds and who is also most likely to shoot up a restaurant, rob you, assault you or rape you? Who is also most likely to be banned from living within X number of feet from a school? Who is starting forest fires, abusing animals and most likely to drive stupid? Hint: Males
I genuinely believe that if an “animal” species’ behavior was this bad, we’d be exterminating them or at the very least, controlling their numbers. Actually, I think we do that with bulls. Maybe the problem and it’s solution have been staring us right in the face the whole time; Balls.
It’s easy to blame guns, society, bad parenting, politics or Bugs Bunny, but at the end of the day, the true problem is patently obvious; he’s walking the streets and waiting at a crime scene near you.
Until we wake up and face reality, these tragedies are going keep happening especially when the cause is in charge of fixing the problem.
For twilight is now upon me
The hunter stalks it’s prey
Destiny watches carefully
As fate selects the day
Recently, I came across a picture of my father and me. It was the last time I saw him. It was around 2012. Even then unfortunately, I knew how this story would end.
My father’s demons were his everyday companion, always ready and eager to steal from him any joy or happiness that he might find. They had arrived early in his life and they were with him until the end. That end came a year ago this October and he died in the worst way. He was alone.
Life had been cruel to him this last couple of years. My sister passed away and he began to unravel. He made choices that drove people away, choices that ultimately ended his life. His family lovingly tried, some more than others, to save him from himself. Ultimately the choice was his and he was tired. His demons and the alcohol were unrelenting.
I wasn’t always there for him. I didn’t want to be. Though I was his only son, I was most likely also one of his many demons. He desperately wanted our relationship to be different. A father and his son, but his drinking was getting worse and I was unwilling to endure his temper, his pain, his life. We were different and it was easier to stay away. I was not part of the loving family that surrounded him, my Aunt, Uncles, Cousins, Step-Mother and Sisters were. In the end, I was hundreds of miles away when my Step Sister told me that he was gone.
I now find myself reflecting on the last 10 years of our relationship. It is filled with distance and quick phone calls. He was always there for me but I was not for him. I made that choice. I’ll live with that choice. I accept that I could not have saved him, but it would have eased my conscience to have tried. I am thankful for those that did what I was unwilling to do.
I have his laugh and I miss him. I am slowly learning to appreciate what I once resented. He made mistakes, he was human and he was my father. In the end, we failed each other, him early and me later. He is gone now and his demons with him. He now lives peacefully in the memory of those who knew him and those who loved him.